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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Science
Science In Your Garden
Category: Science
Tags: science for kids garden earth science life science

If you’re looking for some hands-on activities to study earth and life science, head out to a garden. It’s a living lab that affords all kinds of opportunities to observe science concepts in the natural world, such as:

 

  • interdependence in an environment

  • life cycles and changes

  • adaptations and biodiversity

  • human impact on the environment.

While in the field, kids get a chance to be the scientists by asking questions, making observations, and coming up with explanations for what they see based on evidence. They can define problems they may encounter in a garden (eg. a plant-damaging pest), and gather additional information to brainstorm solutions.

For an idea of the kinds of investigations that can be done in a garden, visit LifeLab, a Santa Cruz-based non-profit organization that hosts field trips and summer camps at their garden classroom. Or go online to download their free garden exploration units for grades 1 - 4. Each unit - Pondering Plants, Soil Stories, Garden Pollinators, and Garden Habitats - includes six lessons.

Additional free resources available at the LifeLab site:

 

Here are some more ideas from KidsGardening, like creating a biosphere in a bottle.

 

For Middle and High School Grades

 

Nature Works Everywhere has a variety of free gardening lesson plans and videos, including, How Dirt Works, and activity guides on Habitats, Living Systems, Soil, Water, Food and Carbon, and others. These guides and others can be found on their Resources page.

 

From the Ground Up, The Science of Soil has free lesson plans and labs on a variety of soil topics including composition and nutrients; there are also free family activities for testing your soil, careers in soil science, and a garden guide.

 

Learn about diversity by tallying how many different species live in your neighborhood. 

 

”Homeschooling

Ecology and Environmental Science
Category: Science
Tags: ecology environmental science earth day

 

Free textbooks, virtual labs, interactives, and activities for building an ecology unit: 

Textbooks: If you want to use a textbook to structure your unit, check out CK-12's Intro to Ecology, with 35 sections covering ecosystems and related topics. Sections include reading, related videos and links, and online practice questions. You can easily create your own "Flexbook" with only the sections you want to cover. The Ecology chapter is part of CK-12's Life Science textbook. 

HippoCampus Environmental Science VideosInformation on Earth's atmosphere, water, geology, and ecosystems.

Exploring Planet Earth: Free online course presented in 10 modules covering Earth's systems and resources.

Click the image below for an interactive worksheet on Earth Day:

Here are some links to free resources for explaining and learning about various ecology topics through interactives, labs, assignments and activities. 

Levels of Organization: This Glencoe Virtual Lab is an investigation of how competition for natural resources affects population growth. Grow two species of Paramecium, compare growth curves, answer journal questions.

Food Chains/Webs

  • Energy Flow in Ecosystems: Shows how energy flows through a food chain between producers, consumers and decomposers. Includes a short quiz.

Predators and Prey

  • Predator-Prey Simulation: Examine predator and prey interactions, in this case, wolves and deer. Set three parameters for the predator: aggression, birth rate, and dependency upon prey as a food source. Then run a simulation to see how the populations change over time.

Symbiosis and Other Interactions:

This video on symbiosis is part of a TED-Ed lesson that includes questions and additional information. 

Nature Cycles:

  • Water Cycle: Interactive diagram with a multiple choice quiz.
  • Carbon Cycle: Travel the cycle with this interactive game. Click the "For Teachers" link for a related lesson plan and additional resources.
  • Carbon Cycle Investigation: A longer simulation activity in which sources of carbon, and human effects on the cycle are identified.
  • Nitrogen Cycle: A description of all the cycles are found here, but the one for nitrogen is an interactive diagram. (Click on page 4).

Photosynthesis and Respiration

  • Virtual Lab: A simulation investigating the effects of environmental conditions on photosynthesis.
  • Interactive Google Doc: 

Earth's Biomes:

  • Six Virtual Biomes: Description of plant and animal life in the major biomes and ecosystems.

Habitats and Ecosystems: 

  • DK Find Out: Interactive illustrations on plants and animals in different habitats. 

Biodiversity: 

  • Backyard Biodiversity: Kids search for animal life in microhabitats close to home. Involves observation, classification, and species mapping. Includes links to several citizen science projects.
  • Endangered Species Assignment: Using earthsendangered.com, create a graphic organizer comparing 4 endangered species from an area of the world.

Environmental Problems and Solutions

Energy Resources

  • Energy Story: Online book with 20 chapters you can click into to learn about different sources of energy, such as fossil fuels, natural gas, wind, hydro and solar energy, etc. Click into the teacher resources for a list of lesson plans.


Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

10 Free Resources for Learning Chemistry
Category: Science
Tags: chemistry for kids chemistry of matter chemistry experiments science experiments for kids

Explore chemistry concepts using a variety of free resources, including video lessons and demos, labs and activities, worksheets and games: 

1. American Chemical Society has lesson units and activities for elementary, middle school, and high school chemistry that can be downloaded for free:

  • Inquiry in Action: Elementary through middle school students learn key concepts through a series of activities. 
  • Middle School Chemistry:  Six chapters of lesson plans can be downloaded covering matter, changes of state, density, the periodic table and bonding, the water molecule, and chemical change. Each chapter includes animations and activities.

2. GPB EducationGeorgia Public Broadcasting provides free fundamentals of chemistry and physics courses for high school students. The content is delivered through 30-minute video lessons, and accompanying note-taking guides and worksheets.

3. Creative Chemistry: This site provides PDF worksheets and guides, and PowerPoints on a number of chemistry topics. There’s a molecules section that allows you to view and manipulate molecular models, and a section with chemistry games and puzzles.

4. Chemistry Now: A weekly, online video series that explores the science of the everyday. The short (5-minute) programs explain the chemistry behind ordinary objects and occurrences, such as cheeseburgers and chocolate, changing leaves and the fear response. The series also takes a look at chance discoveries in chemistry (like Kevlar) , and the work of today’s top scientists.

 

5. Heating PlasticsLearn more about plastics with this interactive game. 

6.   Periodic Table of Videos: As its name implies, this site is a modern version of the Periodic Table of Elements, with short videos explaining each element’s significance and how they’re used. 

7. goREACT: From the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, this site lets you create virtual chemical reactions by dragging elements from the periodic table to a “reaction area." 

8. Chemical Symbols Game: This game is designed to help players identify the first 92 elements by their symbols. Players must combine the correct elements in the "reactor" to make various compounds. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more links on chemical equations and the periodic table.

9. AP Chemistry Videos: This comprehensive collection is found at Curriki.

10. Chemistry GamesInstructions and patterns for making and playing several card and board games to teach chemistry topics. 

Free Readers: 

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